The Seismic consortium is managed by construction consultants Blacc and is funded by Innovate UK.
The other partners are technology-led design practice Bryden Wood, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), and offsite specialists Elliott and The McAvoy Group.
The new consortium has been established to carry out extensive research and development to engineer a range of standardised offsite solutions which will increase productivity and efficiency, drive down costs and reduce lead times in the delivery of primary schools.
Richard Crosby, Director of Blacc, said “By applying greater use of standardisation, our aim is to develop a series of components to enable multiple offsite specialists to achieve unprecedented economies of scale and efficiency in manufacturing.
“This will bring a higher degree of stability, predictability and transparency to the procurement process – to the benefit of both the client and the supply chain.
“It represents a window into a brave new world for UK construction.”
One of the solutions currently in development is the creation of a pioneering digital tool to accelerate the initial design phase for new primary schools.
This user-friendly web-based app, which can be used by teaching professionals, will configure a primary school building on a specific site in line with DfE requirements, and using a standardised offsite solution to optimise efficiency.
This will significantly reduce the time and cost of the initial feasibility and design phase and will facilitate the input of stakeholders.
Jami Cresser-Brown, Director of Bryden Wood said: “By digitising the process of designing a primary school, we believe we can deliver significant reductions in lead times and build costs whilst accommodating individual design requirements.
“With the use of a digital tool, more time can actually be spent on the bespoke elements of the design of each school.”
The Seismic project will also look at how standardised module sizes and steel-framed offsite solutions can be developed, costed and manufactured to achieve greater economies of scale and cost efficiencies for school construction.
Susan Hone-Brookes, Chief Engineer for Construction and Infrastructure at the MTC said, “This project will not only standardise different, market-leading offsite solutions for primary school construction, but it will act as a trailblazer to demonstrate the very latest offsite manufacturing technologies.”
David Clark, Head of Manufacturing and Innovation at The McAvoy Group, said: “It is fantastic to be a part of such a ground-breaking project which we think will be a catalyst for revolutionising not just school design, procurement and delivery but the wider construction industry.
“There is also huge potential to take the best of UK manufacturing and apply that to offsite construction to realise even greater cost and programme efficiencies – with no compromise on design – to the benefit of the communities we serve.”
James Cowell, Technical Director of Elliott, said: “There are clear productivity issues across construction and offsite manufacture is a proven method of addressing that, as well as issues such as cost control, skills shortages, sub-standard quality and long lead times.
“There is also the potential going forward to explore the standardisation of other design elements of a building, such as M&E, and how we could remove the need for many of the costly and time-intensive processes traditionally carried out on site.”